High school notebook: Hempfield pitcher Uschock finally gets some of spotlight
Saturday, June 2, 2018 | 11:00 PM
Tears gently welled in senior pitcher Maddie Uschock's eyes as she tried to slow down the world and put her team's latest win, put everything, into perspective.
In a moment of vulnerability held together by humility, Uschock realized how much three years of patience and preparation meant to her.
“I didn't mean to get emotional,” she said.
Hempfield (20-3) had just four-peated. Uschock and others who waited their turn in the Spartans' revolving doors program finally had their own title, their place in team history.
The next crop, albeit one with less fanfare and lowered expectations, the one that lost its grip on winning streaks but not hardware, still raised a trophy.
“It's all worth it for this,” Uschock said Wednesday evening after the Spartans' 2-1, 10-inning victory over rival Latrobe in the WPIAL Class 6A championship at Seton Hill.
“I have worked so hard, I don't want any attention because of that, but it's been such a long time to get here,” she said. “It just means so much.”
Uschock was once an on-the-rise pitcher just like the hurler she played behind for the past three seasons, Morgan Ryan.
A program all-timer now dealing risers at Notre Dame, Ryan was the dominant leader of an all-star squad, one that went 27-0 last season and won a third straight WPIAL title and second consecutive PIAA crown.
Uschock respects Ryan's talents and appreciates her impact on the program — “She was amazing,” Uschock said.
But Uschock, who saw minimal time in the circle last year (26 innings), still quietly kept Hempfield's proud reputation for producing imposing arms intact. This program rolls out pitchers like they're sports cars — souped-up and sleek, always in the fast lane. Uschock couldn't wait to get out of the garage and show that time-stopping changeup.
A Dominican College recruit, she just wanted a chance to show what she could do. A four-year pitching career may have been sawed off to one and change, but she understands why and gladly accepts the outcome.
“Maddie has been in the shadow of Morgan Ryan for three years,” Hempfield coach Bob Kalp said. “When you're in the shadow of a big dog like that, people just figure you're not good enough to pitch. The least of my worries (at the beginning of the season) was pitching. That's because we knew we had Maddie.”
Six Westmoreland softball teams and one county baseball team will open the PIAA playoffs Monday.
In softball, Hempfield (20-3) opens the state tournament against District 3 third-place team Warwick (17-6) at 5 p.m. at Latrobe's Graham-Sobota Field.
• Latrobe (12-4), meantime, plays District 3 champion Central Dauphin (16-5) at 4:30 p.m. at Millersville.
• In 4A, defending state champion Mt. Pleasant (17-1) takes on District 10 champion Slippery Rock (17-2) at 4 p.m. at Allegheny College, and WPIAL champion Belle Vernon (21-3) plays District 6 champion Bellefonte (15-3) at 2 at Peters Township.
• WPIAL 3A champion Southmoreland (10-7) meets District 6 runner-up Central Mountain (13-5) at 5 p.m. at North Allegheny.
• And in Class A, Monessen (15-4) faces District 10 champion Cambridge Springs (10-8) at 2 p.m. at Penn State Behrend.
• Greensburg Central Catholic (14-6) will face Dubois (16-6) in the Class A baseball first round at 5:30 p.m. at Kuntz Field in Punxsutawney.
Southmoreland won its first WPIAL softball championship last week, but it is not the first girls team in school history to win a title. The girls cross country team won the WPIAL in 1997.
Jeannette junior football player Anthony Johnson added another Division I scholarship offer, this one from Massachusetts.
Johnson is a 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive end with additional offers from Syracuse, Central Michigan, Buffalo and others.
• Latrobe junior lineman Trent Holler grabbed an offer from Elon (N.C.), where his father, Dick, played college football.
• Unheralded Yough junior running back Dustin Shoaf received his first scholarship offer, from Cal (Pa.). Shoaf led the WPIAL in rushing last regular season with 1,808 yards and ran for a school-record 428 yards in one game.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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